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Stalin's Power

Courtesy Reuters

THE official handbooks of the Soviets do not give Stalin's family name or the date of his birth. He was born in the year 1879, and is supposed to have come from a peasant family. Between 1892 and 1898 he attended a seminary for priests at Tiflis, whence, as the official "Communist's Calendar" states, he was expelled. Thereafter Stalin's life revolved within the monotonous triangle of secret revolutionary conspiracies, banishments and flights. This was the case with many other Russians, for Russia has always been a great producer of professional revolutionists.

But Stalin's ups and downs, or rather ins and outs, were more drastic than those of the average rebel. After he had reached his nineteenth year he was sent to Siberia four times. Thrice he escaped. He was sentenced to his fourth deportation in 1913, and this time stayed in Siberia till the February Revolution. Returning to Petrograd he was advanced to the organizing committee of the Bolshevik Party. The "Calendar" makes bare mention of the fact that he fought in the field in the Civil War between 1918 and 1921. He became People's Commissar for the Control by Workers and Peasants, then People's Commissar for Nationalities, and then secretary of the party. Since 1917, he has been a member of the Politbureau. The "Calendar" says nothing of his exploit as organizer and leader of the daylight robbery on a main street in Tiflis of a money transport of the Russian Bank (the party treasury was empty after the unlucky revolution of 1905!). It says nothing of a subsequent short trip abroad -- Stalin's only contact with foreign countries. It says nothing of the activities whereby he put Lenin on the defensive during the latter's last year, closed Trotsky's mouth after Lenin's death, bested his partners, Kamenev and Zinoviev, in the all-powerful triumvirate which succeeded to Lenin's inheritance, and finally dethroned the new associates with whom he replaced them -- Rykov, Bukharin, Tomsky. Stalin must have known that this insignificant curriculum vitæ would fall under the eyes of

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